We’re all part of a very new breed. We spend an average of 90% of our lives inside of buildings. And we spend nearly all of our workdays indoors. But to keep working right, humans needs light. When you don’t have natural light available, a high-quality source of artificial light should replace it.
“I’m very sensitive about light, and I think it’s one of the most important things for work. That’s why I’m always working to convince offices’ owners to invest more into high-quality lighting than into designer furniture.” That’s a recent quote from leading world architect Eva Jiřičná.
Sparkle would definitely agree with this thought. She works in accounting, and she’ll be explaining why you’ll want to shine a light on more than just your bookkeeping. She’s also a member of our Mindful Eight. They’re employees who work in offices that meet the highest of standards—the WELL certification standards. In recent weeks, her teammates from the Mindful Eight have been showing you e.g. how floor mats influence air quality at your workplace, and how you can improve your memory and concentration by drinking water.
8 THINGS YOU MIGHT NOT KNOW ABOUT LIGHT
1/ Light runs our internal clocks
People and animals have their own light-based internal clocks (their “circadian rhythm”) that influence their bodies’ physiological functions over the course of about every 24 hours. So light predetermines our phases of activity and rest.
Sparkle: People are actually walking solar panels in a way. The only difference is, they’ve never needed subsidies to operate (if you don’t count their bonuses twice a year).
2/ It’s not all black and white
Quality lighting should offer you more than just an on and an off. For office building to pass WELL certification, its interior needs to meet strict limits, for example about what light intensity has to be available at desks at what height.
Sparkle: I recommend installing electric lighting only. One time we tried lighting the accounting room with candles, and that was a burning topic for our whole company.
3/ Shine a light on it
If your workplace has bad lighting or not enough lighting, that can contribute to headaches, bad eyesight, and fatigue (especially in the afternoon).
Sparkle: On the other hand, working in the near-darkness did have a strange way of bringing us together—budget teambuilding! (Unfortunately it also brought a lot of us face to face with the furniture.)
4/ Are you bringing home work, or insomnia?
According to a study by the Institute of Medicine, roughly every fifth American has chronic insomnia or other sleep disorders. And artificial lighting is one of the causes.
Sparkle: People who have good light at work sleep an average of 46 more minutes per day. And I’m not just talking about remote workers who sleep in.
What helps you to fall asleep?
Irritated eyes due to hours spent staring at a monitor are one very common “work injury.” “Computer-eye syndrome” is the result of blinking less, along with bad lighting—and reflections on your screen. Because of these, WELL requires that computer screens at desks within 4.5 m of a window be turned at a 20° angle from the plane of the nearest window.
Sparkle: If I wink at my hunkiest teammates a lot, is that sexual harassment, or medical prevention?
6/ Leave the holes for the moles
Nowadays only about six percent of office workers are still stuck in windowless rooms. The rest of them would either refuse to move into a “cell” like that (48%) or would ask for higher pay in return (43%).
Sparkle: Don’t forget that you have a right to a lunch break, new pens... and light! In an ideal office layout, 75% of the seats should be located within 7.5 meters of the nearest window.
7/ The glass chameleon
From the outside, office buildings often look like glass palaces. To keep the people inside them from drowning in their own sweat, WELL prescribes a number of methods for shading the windows. One possibility that it offers is electrochromic glass, which darkens automatically just like an auto-dimming rear-view mirror in a car, reducing light transmissivity by 90% or more.
Sparkle: A laser pointer isn’t the best way to shine in front of your boss.
8/ Shine with a real point
All of an office’s lights should be connected with occupancy sensors. If nobody’s there, the lights should be dimmed down to 20%, or turned off completely.
Sparkle: Please, no matter whether or not your workplace has auto-dimming lights, don’t ask your teammates to turn your desk lamp on and off at random times in your honor while you’re on vacation.
WELL certification covers eight areas that are decisive for a healthy office. We showed you three of these pillars in recent weeks; you’ll find them behind the links below. We’ll be presenting more areas and their ambassadors again in a week.